By Wayne Lincourt
Taurus International Manufacturing
The new Taurus View with the transparent Lexan side plate was unveiled at the January SHOT Show in Las Vegas. Since then there have been several brief but glowing reviews based on limited time with the gun at the show. We wanted to see for ourselves—is all the hype deserved? Or is it just a gimmick to sell guns? At scarcely over half a pound, with a titanium cylinder and barrel, there is hardly a gun in the market to even compete with the View at a street price of around $500. But with an extremely lightweight revolver, in the venerable .38 Special, always comes punishing recoil, which I’ll get to. The Lexan panel is nifty, and does have some actual use, but to me what makes this gun stand out is the extreme pocket-ability and light weight at a competitive price to the tiny semi-autos in the comparable 9mm. And while the gun isn’t perfect, all of these mostly positive reviews showcase a new direction for Taurus, with vastly improved quality control and customer service, at the same Taurus affordable prices. The View isn’t for everyone. She kicks pretty hard. But if an extremely lightweight and reliable revolver is on your bucket list, we found the Taurus View to be well worth your attention.
According to Taurus Holdings’ President and CEO, Mark Kresser, the View was designed specifically for concealed carry. Choosing a daily carry gun, of course, is a very personal choice and affected by such things as how you dress, your job or profession, your size, strength and a host of other personal factors. However, in the end, what you must achieve is a reasonable balance between the key elements every self defense gun must meet.
Since Taurus emphasized concealability, let’s start there. The gun is indeed small. Taurus calls it a “micro,” and at an overall size of 5.5”Lx3.6”Hx 1.35”W, micro it is. It weighed in at 9.5 ounces empty, 11.6 ounces loaded with five Federal Premium light recoil 110 grain Hydra-Shok rounds. (That’s a good load for this gun, by the way.) The grip is .81” thick at the top, tapering to .31” at the bottom, and it’s .9” front to back at its narrowest. The lack of an external hammer, the short barrel, light weight and the tiny grip all contribute to ease of concealment.
The ultimate purpose of a self-defense firearm, of course, is to stop a deadly attack. That makes the caliber an important consideration. Personally, I’d prefer to carry nothing smaller than a .454 Casull or .44 Magnum. Unfortunately, guns chambered for those calibers tend to be a bit big and heavy, and the recoil can be brutal. So, as in any firearm choice, we begin to compromise. For a more concealable gun, we choose a smaller caliber. Is .38 special an acceptable compromise? Regardless of what you might think of the venerable .38 round, it has proven to be an adequate chambering for the close-in self defense role…provided your shots are well-placed. Which brings us to the next consideration—accuracy.
Shootability might be a more precise term, since accuracy depends on several factors including handling. We’re not interested in determining the absolute accuracy of a gun fired from a mechanical rest where it’s securely clamped in place, but how it functions in real terms for a flesh and blood human being. That brings into consideration such factors as sight radius, trigger pull and felt recoil, as well as ergonomic factors like grip size, orientation of the bore axis to the grip angle and the general fit of the gun in your hand.
The View has a very short 1.41” barrel. Good for concealability, but not necessarily for accuracy. A short barrel provides a short sight radius, meaning that the slightest deviation from your ideal sight picture can result in a wide dispersion of shots. The View is also very light—9.5 ounces. Again, good for ease of carry, but the lower the weight, the greater the felt recall. Combined with a small grip, this could have a negative impact on accuracy, both through anticipation of the recoil (or flinch), and through making it more difficult to remain on target for follow-up shots.
These thoughts were going through my head when I went to the range. I brought my shooting gloves, just in case. Turns out, I needed them. This is not a fun gun to shoot. I started with Herter’s 158 grain full metal jacket (FMJ) in .38 Special, not 38+P. The recoil wasn’t just brutal, it hurt! You might think I’m just a wimp, and you may be right, but I regularly shoot a .44 magnum revolver and 45 automatics with no problems. I put on my gloves to give the web of my hand some protection. That’s when I noticed the trigger guard smacking my middle finger. I ended up with a one finger grip while wearing the gloves to eliminate the bruising. I could still control the muzzle with just one finger on the grip but that is not the way you want to hold a self-defense gun. You want a secure grip so your assailant can’t snatch it away from you and so you don’t drop it at just the wrong time.
Using a standard sight picture, the front blade centered in the rear notch and the top of the blade even with the top of the notch, the gun shot 6” high at 7 yards (shooting offhand from a standing position). By lowering my aiming point to the bottom of the 12” target I was able to consistently put five rounds within 2 ½” of the target center.
Drawing from concealment and firing with a two-finger grip, I was able to put two rounds in the kill zone. However, my draw was slowed by the fact that it was difficult to get a solid hold on the vestigial grip. A secure grasp of the gun is crucial because you definitely don’t want to drop it. Handling aside, the accuracy of the gun is actually surprisingly good for limited-range engagements, no doubt due in large part to the excellent double-action trigger. The trigger was smooth with a clean break at about 11 pounds. I have to add that 11 pounds is an acceptable weight for a double-action-only gun (DAO), although it didn’t feel that heavy due to the smoothness of the action. On the other hand, the combination of a tiny grip and the substantial felt recoil detracts from the handling. You should know that I have relatively small hands and the grip seemed too small to me. If you have average to large hands, better try one out before parting with your hard-earned cash.
So the View fires an acceptable self-defense round given the light weight and small size of the gun. Concealability and carry weight are both excellent if that’s your primary concern. Real world accuracy is also more than sufficient to get the job done provided you practice frequently, something I doubt you’d want to do. Last but definitely not least, is dependability. In fact, based on my personal combat experience, dependability is the single most important consideration in selecting a self-defense gun. When you’re confronted with that deadly threat, if your gun doesn’t function properly, you might as well be carrying a rock because that’s the level of protection you’ll have. In other words, when you‘re betting your life, make sure it’s a sure thing.
Unfortunately, firing 30 or 40 rounds doesn’t prove how well a gun will serve you over the long haul. I prefer to have a minimum of 500 malfunction-free rounds down range before I trust my life to any gun. It also helps if the gun in question has a history of reliability. The View is built on the Model 85 frame with a titanium cylinder and stainless-steel-lined titanium barrel. The frame is aluminum alloy. The model 85 has been Taurus’ meat-and-potatoes gun for several decades. It’s also the official sidearm of the Singapore police force patrol officers.
Taurus has a lot of experience building lightweight aluminum alloy and titanium model 85s, so not much of the View is really new and untested with the exception of the Lexan side panel. My first reaction to that was, it’s interesting but what’s the purpose? After more consideration, I decided that it had real functional value after all. When dependability is paramount, being able to see the normally hidden little links and levers in the guts of your gun means that you can visually verify their condition without having to tear the gun down. It also means that the manufacturer needs to pay more attention to making sure those parts are right. A double benefit.
According to a Taurus spokesman, the company took a long time to find a clear cover that was stiff, but that had enough give that it wouldn’t crack, even if you over-tightened one of the screws. The gun I received from Taurus had a couple of cracks in the Lexan, and it was cracked and crazed under the forward screw. There are two things you should know about that. First, this was a test and evaluation gun that goes out to a lot of reviewers. I’m sure it didn’t come off the assembly line like that. Second, you can break anything if you try hard enough. Airport baggage handlers prove that every day. The cracks didn’t concern me. Whoever had it before me obviously set out to crack the Lexan, and they achieved what they intended. I wouldn’t be concerned about it. The gun has a lifetime warranty. Send it back to Taurus and they’ll replace the Lexan. Treat it like you have half a brain, and it’s not likely that it will crack in the first place. The Lexan panel is not a structural component. It’s not something you have to worry about.
At one point, Taurus Brazil had a reputation for shoddy quality control. That has changed dramatically over the years, and Taurus has been delivering a much higher level of workmanship for some time. Since I never owned a Taurus Model 85, I scoured the online forums and came to the conclusion that the vast majority of Model 85 owners are quite happy with their guns. In fact, it’s one of the most popular guns that Taurus builds.In short, I wouldn’t be concerned with dependability. The Model 85 is a straightforward design with a very good history and a lifetime warranty to back it up. On top of that, it’s a revolver. Wheel guns have a superior record where dependability is concerned due to fewer moving parts and the lack of dependence on the round firing. If it doesn’t go bang when you pull the trigger, just pull it again on a fresh round. You can’t do that with a semiautomatic.
MSRP for the Taurus View is $599, although I’ve seen it on sale for about $100 less.
So to answer the question posed at the beginning, the Lexan panel is a little gimmicky, but it does have some redeeming value as far as maintenance and inspections are concerned. That contributes to reliability, or at least to your confidence in the gun. There’s no question that it’s an easy gun to conceal and delivers a sufficient level of accuracy. Since Taurus set out to build a very light gun with a vestigial grip, their execution is admirable. However, shootability/handling suffers due exclusively to the abbreviated grip and very light weight.
If your primary interest is in a last ditch hideout gun where concealability is your number one concern, the View has the elements to provide you with a gun you can depend on. However, if you want a more reasonable balance between concealability and shootability, there are better choices. The Ruger LCR, for example, is only ¾” longer and taller, weighs just 4 ounces more than the View, and is actually slightly narrower. Plus it’s a nice gun to shoot.
Like I said earlier, selecting a daily carry gun is a personal choice, a matter of balance. Make sure the equation works for you.
Taurus View Ballistics:
Ammunition Average Muzzle Velocity Standard Deviation Average Group Size*
Herter’s 38 Spcl 158gr FMJ 742.260fps 3.344fps 4.125”
Federal 38 Spcl Low Recoil 809.325fps 5.575fps 3.495”
*Groups fired from an unsupported standing position at a range of 7 yards.